16 March 2016, Sweetcrude, Lagos – The two major workers’ organisations in the Nigerian oil and gas sector, the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, have described the recent Federal Government’s unbundling of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, as meaningless in the absence of the planned Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB.
*Dr Ibe Kachikwu, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum.
Both unions also warned that the unbundling of the NNPC was illegal as they insisted that any effort to reform the NNPC outside of the PIB was meaningless because the PIB was germane to the development of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.
The unions, in separate statements, described the government’s one on NNPC as “an attempt to provoke the oil and gas workers and cause industrial unrest in the country,”
In the statement by its Acting General Secretary, Joseph Ogbebor, NUPENG said, “We condemn the unilateral action of the Minister of State, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, as the decision is not in consonance with the laws establishing the NNPC.
“The unbundling and rebranding of NNPC as announced by the Minister of State is another public policy change which is not consistent with the Act and Laws establishing NNPC and will be resisted by oil and gas workers in the country.
“NUPENG will not tolerate a situation whereby the unbundled companies will now hide under the cover to start disengaging its workers. Job creation and job security has been the change mantra of the current administration.”
The statement further noted that, “The move is to kill the NNPC by all means but that government officials should know that the Corporation is a creation of law and that it will take the repealing of the original Act to effect the changes that they are planning to do.”
On its part, PENGASSAN, in a statement by its Acting General Secretary, Lumumba Okugbawa, said the government’s move is tantamount to a breach of the Act setting up the Corporation, which would render it illegal.
He said, “There is an existing NNPC Act of 1977 that set up the NNPC. This Act has many provisions that deal with structure and operations of the corporation. There are many issues such as pensions and transfer of the employees, which are provided for in the NNPC Act of 1977. What will happen to all these provisions of the law?”
He added that, “For the government to do anything with the current NNPC, the Act must either be repealed or amended to accommodate the planned restructuring. If not done, it will equal to lack of respect for the rule of law on the part of the government.
“The Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, that is expected to be the legal instrument for the ongoing reforms of the Oil and Gas industry will be meaningless if the Government should introduce plans outside the reforms. The PIB is germane to the development of the nation’s Oil and Gas Industry.”